Archive for June, 2013

“MY MOTORCYCLE SPOKE TO ME”

June 29, 2013

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GUEST ARTICLE BY “HALFWAY-TO-HELL”

Photo by Genghis



IF BIKES COULD TALK: What important message would this bike convey?

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My ’85 FXRS is named “Herc.” That’s not short for Hercules, but for Hercimer. I’ll try to explain as concisely as I can. When I was a kid, Captain Kangaroo used to run one of his animation things (they weren’t cartoons, but weird, almost cardboard things against black backgrounds…hard to explain). This particular one was called, “Hercimer the Homely Doll” from a record that was voiced/sang by Sterling Holloway in the late ’40s. In the story, Hercimer was such a homely doll, he sat in the toy shop for years, while newer toys, and fads flew out the door.

Anyway, (I did use the word concise, right…too late.), at my local HD shop was this really nice ’85 FXRS. Perfect factory paint, and obviously well maintained. An original owner bike. This was in 2008. I was in the market for a used Harley. An FXRS was not really on my radar. Every time I went to the dealership, which had a real good selection of used bikes at all times, I kept noticing the ’85. Carb and all. After about a YEAR, I’d go into the dealer just to see if the bike was still there…it would be moved around within the inventory, but there it was. The Softails and Road Kings, etc. weren’t on the floor long. But the newbies walked right by the perfect ’85 FXRS.

Remember that Twilight Zone episode where the old guy and his wife go to Vegas….he’s totally against gambling, but then, a slot machine keeps calling his name..“Franklin”. Ultimately, it’s his undoing. Same thing with this damn FXRS. I watched the price fall over a year and a half. I bought it in the fall of 2009. Yesterday, with the leaves turning, Herc and I went for a trouble-free 300 mile ride.

I love my bike.

FINITO

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“APPRECIATING FORMS”

June 29, 2013

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Photo by Patricia Wong
Courtesy of Rainbow Publications

FORMS: Youth fades, forms are forever.

SIFU RICHARD CHIN, 1979:

“I practiced some forms yesterday after not having done them for awhile. It reminded me of what a great conditioner forms are.”

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As you know from my Memoir Part 6,” Dr. Richard Chin was my teacher at his Asian Martial Arts Studio in New York City. I was Dr. Chin’s disciple. You also know from reading my memoir, that both my brother disciple, Mike Willner and I, broke away from Sifu Chin at different times (I left first), because of different conflicting situations, that we each had with Sifu (yes, I still think of him and call him this).

Since I wrote Memoir Part 6 and got back into contact with Mike Willner, several important things have happened with Mike and me. First of all, Mike and I have collaborated on a kung fu blog together, which is called Gung Fu Brothers Speak Out.” The title of the blog suggests that Mike and I (and selective guest authors) will write frankly and forthrightly, about the martial arts. If you check out the topics we’ve covered so far, you will see that much of it is controversial—but from our point of view—true, nonetheless. Readers of our blog can enter their own comments in the form of posts following each article.

The second unintended consequence of both my retrospective look back in my memoirs, and of my reconnecting with Mike Willner, was a rekindling of our brotherhood as fellow disciples of Dr. Chin’s, and a rekindling of an intense interest in the martial arts. I believe that I can speak for Mike as well, on this score.

In the past few weeks, so many of Sifu Chin’s thoughts and voiced opinions have entered my mind. In this short span of time, I’ve gained a much more pervasive appreciation of Sifu’s words from the past, that revealed at the time—his great wisdom and the epiphanies that he himself, experienced then. There’s no other way to say it, other than to state that, Sifu is a great man.

To be perfectly honest with you, these same words were uttered to me recently, by my disciple, Eddie Garcia. You read about Eddie in Memoir Part 8 of my memoir series. Eddie is like a son to me. Even so, when he uttered these words to me, “Sifu, you’re a great man.”—I admit to be taken aback by these words of praise.

I find it both ironic and self-revelatory, that after 30 years after breaking off with my teacher, that I now echo my disciple’s exact words about me, in applying them to Sifu Chin. It proves how cathartic, writing my memoirs and reconnecting with my Jow Ga brother, Mike Willner has been—to the point where I can now utter in absentia from Sifu, the words that I couldn’t give voice to when I was his disciple: “Sifu, you’re a great man.”

This cathartic experience leading to a rekindling intense interest in the martial arts, has led to the complete rehabilitation of my “Fook Fu” form. For those of you not familiar with this Jow Ga kung fu(Jow family style) form, Fook Fu is the single most important form in Jow Ga. It is in fact, considered the foundational form of the system. All of Jow Ga’s combat philosophy is encapsulated in Fook Fu. Rescusitating my Fook Fu, has once again, reminded me of the importance of Sifu Chin’s thoughts with respect to forms practice.

Forms practice obviously, is a great deal more than just a great physical conditioner. Practicing a truly great combat form like Fook Fu, ignites one’s combat spirit—the fighting spirit that lives in all true martial artists. It brings forth to the front of one’s consciousness, all that is important when it comes to the practice of techniques that are meant to maim and kill. Killer instinct is by necessity, the driving force in proficient forms practice.

This is the mental part of becoming one with the combat form: The inner knowledge that the moves one is practicing, are meant to be efficient perfection in martial technique. Each move is practiced with one thing in mind: To make each technique as perfect as one’s body and mind will allow—to maximize the damage that each technique can do to an opponent. Muscle memory is our ally in the striving toward this combat perfection—but with the practice of combat forms—power inspired by killer instinct must underlie that muscle memory. That is why forms practice in the combat arts, must be augmented by full-contact (preferably bare-knuckled) free sparring.

Youth fades, but forms are forever.

Yes, I did modify Judge Judy’s “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.” But it was to make the point that although youth subsides, forms can maximize your physical conditioning—as my teacher realized. Practicing Fook Fu has brought this home to me.

Speaking from a personal perspective, resurrecting my Fook Fu had several stages. The initial stage was just trying to remember the sequence of the form. After a long period of not practicing a combat form, one’s muscle memory that once guided the younger martial artist without resorting to conscious thought, has faded with time. Once I got past that initial phase, I began concentrating on getting my rhythm. Combat forms have a certain coordinated rhythm, which occurs naturally, once one’s combat efficiency regulates the way individual moves are done.

The last stage of fully resurrecting a combat form like Fook Fu, is to make sure that each move is done correctly, with the biomechanics of bodily movement in each technique is maximized for power generation. In my case, I’ve also had to deal with how certain age-related changes in my joints led me to slightly alter the way that I approached and adjusted certain movements, as my body would allow.

As the combat artist ages, these physical adjustments to certain techniques must be made, in order to fully restore the flow that a form must have. In my case, an arthritic knee that stubbornly resists movement and range of motion, interferes with “t-stances” where the lead foot in place perpendicularly to the rear foot. These t-stances are low, with the knee of the back leg ideally placed near the bottom of the calf of the lead leg, and are used when pivoting to a change of direction, either 90 degrees or 135 degrees away from the original position. My arthritic knee necessitated a higher stance, and a change in the rhythm of the move. From an analytical point of view, these parts of Fook Fu that require these t-stances are less than a half of one percent of the entire form. All the rest of my form excel in power and rhythm. Believe me, I’ll take that at age 66.

Youth fades, but forms are forever.

The gist of this saying is, that youth and all that accompanies youth—maximum strength, joint functionality and recuperative power—eventually wane as an age-related natural course. Nobody gets a free pass on this. Practicing Fook Fu every day once again, has taught me this: Forms maximize the capabilities of one’s body, regardless of age. This is one of the valuable lessons that Sifu Chin tried to convey to me over 30 years ago, this lesson is finally sinking in. Thank you, Sifu.

FINITO

“KARATE-INFLUENCED JOW GA KUNG FU”

June 22, 2013

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Photo by Rob Sager

Courtesy of Iron Horse Magazine



MY KWOON IN 1990: Our Jow Ga techniques are karate-informed.

There is a recurring technique in the signature form of our Jow Ga kung fu (Jow family style) system, called “Fook Fu,” where a open-handed block precedes a reverse punch counterattack. When I execute this open-handed block with the palm facing down, I begin the block by crossing my arms in front of me, with both arms meeting at the elbows. The blocking arm’s elbow is beneath the elbow of the other arm. The technique continues, as the forearm of the blocking arm sweeps along the forearm of the opposing arm. The blocking arm then makes the block, as the opposing hand returns to chamber.

This is identical to the way that conventional karate styles, make their outside middle-target blocks, with the arms first meeting at the elbows—with the blocking arm’s elbow underneath—before the block is completed. If you look at the way other Jow Ga schools perform this open-handed block in Fook Fu, you will not see the arms meeting at the elbows before the block is completed. In their form, the opposing arm stays chambered, uninvolved in the technique.

When I begin Fook Fu by bringing my feet together, I do so with my knees bent, so that I can do my best to keep the height of my head at the same level throughout the form. This is typical of karate form, where one endeavors not to “bob up and down” during movement. Other Jow Ga schools do begin Fook Fu, with the feet together, but with their knees straight. They are in fact standing straight up, as opposed to sinking down slightly as I do, when I bend my knees at the same point of the form.

When I complete my Fook Fu form, after I bring my feet together after the “finshing bow,” I then go into what I learned as “natural stance,” which is feet shoulder-width apart, and open hands in knife hand (spear hand) position, held relaxed in front of my body. This “natural stance” is similar to the “yoi” position, found in karate. The only difference is, the yoi position utilizes closed fists instead of knife hands. When other Jow Ga schools end their forms with their finishing bows, with the feet together, that is considered the end of their forms. I don’t finish my Jow Ga forms, until I’ve moved into natural stance. In my Jow Ga forms, the natural stance is not considered an addendum after the forms—it is considered part of the forms.

If you look at how other Jow Ga schools chamber their hands, you will notice that many of them chamber rather high on the sides of the ribcage. I chamber my hands—as I and my Jow Ga brother Mike Willner learned—at belt level. Chambering at belt level is typical for conventional karate systems.

One of the standard drills that I engaged in in my old school, Dr. Richard Chin’s Asian Martial Arts Studio in NYC, was “one-point” sparring, otherwise known as one-step sparring. This is a typical training device found in karate systems, which promotes strong blocking in four basic blocks: The down block, high-rising block, outside middle-target block, and inside middle-target block. This drill, is rare in kung fu schools.

Another drill that I learned and taught as a technique that built strong blocking technique, is step-through basics—a teaching technique that is typical for karate styles, but not seen in Chinese-style schools. Karate styles are in my opinion, more systematic in the way that they train in basic technique. Kung fu schools are more haphazard in this respect.

This is why I’m grateful that my teacher, Sifu Richard Chin, used karate methodology when it came to organizing basic drills. It is simply a better way, than is done in most kung fu schools. I believe that this is cultural, in that Japanese are more pragmatic and ordered than the Chinese, in the way that they approach the breakdown of technique, whether we’re discussing martial arts or playing golf.

You will also not find full-contact, bare-knuckle freesparring in many Chinese style schools. Yet, it was standard operating procedure when I came up. It is the way that I trained, and the way that Mike Willner’s and my students trained. Bare-knuckled freesparring, is the signature difference between our kung fu and other kung fu schools, regardless of the styles of those other schools. In point of fact (not a pun), you will also find many karate schools that only practice tournament point-style sparring, which is totally unrealistic and counterproductive. Can you say, “Playing tag?” But this is more true of kung fu schools than karate schools.

The evidence is clear for all to see. The way that my teacher, Sifu Richard Chin implemented the teaching of Jow Ga kung fu, was heavily influenced by his involvement and understanding of karate—and I have to thank him for this. I have to be grateful to Dr. Chin for this, because this produced a better and stronger brand of Jow Ga kung fu. All martial arts either evolve, devolve or stay static. The evolution of a martial art is a product of human nature, rather than a dogmatic adherence to strict traditionalism. I have reason to believe that the brand of Jow Ga that emerged from Dr. Chin’s Asian Martial Arts Studio, is not only unique, but superior in many ways. Later.

FINITO

“JOW GA KUNG FU’S DR. RICHARD CHIN”

June 9, 2013

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Photo by Rob Sager

Courtesy of Iron Horse Magazine



POST-DR. RICHARD CHIN: My kwoon in 1990, the New York Martial Arts Club.

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“I was with Sifu in Hong Kong and Singapore and saw Sigung and all the seniors welcoming him, he lit incense at every altar…..”

MIKE WILLNER

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MIke Willner, as has been abundantly documented in my writing, and I were brother Disciples of Dr. Richard Chin’s thirty years ago. The art that Sifu Chin taught us, was Jow Ga kung fu. Mike and I went our separate ways from Sifu, at different times and for different reasons, but the fact remains, that Sifu Chin was our teacher and mentor. What Mike was alluding to in his comment, was a trip that he and Sifu Chin took to visit Sigung Chan Man Cheung in Hong Kong and Singapore. “Sigung” is an honorific martial arts title, indicating one’s teacher’s teacher.

In this case, Chan Man Cheung was Sifu Richard Chin’s teacher. The rituals that Mike referred to, that is, the lighting of the incense at the altars, is an privilege reserved only for the Disciples of a teacher, which is what Richard Chin is—Chan Man Cheung’s Disciple. I wrote about the disciple-only ritual of our lighting incense at the altar in our kwoon, as a sign of respect for our teacher (Richard Chin), his teacher (Chan Man Cheung) and the founder of our Jow Ga style, Jow Biu, in Memoir Part 9.” Richard Chin’s highly public lighting of incense at the altars in Sigung Chan Man Cheung’s presence, as well as in the presence of Chan Man Cheung’s other Disciples, seems like incontrovertible evidence of Chan Man Cheung’s and Richard Chin’s Sifu/Disciple relationship. Yet, there are some in the intervening years, who would spread gossip to the contrary.

Sigung Chan Man Cheung received our teacher and Mike gracefully, as he does with all of his disciples. It is a great honor to meet with one’s Sigung (one’s teacher’s teacher), an honor that I never had—for I’d left Dr. Chin’s kwoon before Mike made this trip with Richard Chin. I also missed a visit that Sigung Chan Man Cheung made to our kwoon, the Asian Martial Arts Studio, in the mid-1970s. This was before I joined Sifu’s school. As I was told by another brother Disciple of Dr. Chin’s, Jeff Pascal, Chan Man Cheung is quite charismatic, with a terrific sense of honor. Above the altar in our kwoon where we lit incense, hung a picture of Chan Man Cheung as a young man, standing with the founder that we are descended from in our style, Jow Biu. As I understand it from others who were there for Sigung’s visit, it was a touching and solemn moment when Chan Man Cheung viewed our altar, with the picture of him and his teacher hung above it.

After I became a Disciple of Sifu’s, I began to hear stories of a frivolous sibling rivalry between my teacher, Richard Chin, and another Disciple of Chan Man Cheung’s named Dean Chin (now deceased, no relation to Richard Chin), who was based in Washington D.C. It was understood at the time, that this was a disagreement among fellow Disciples that was fairly one-sided. In other words, generated by Dean Chin. Richard Chin never had the time for this type of petty nonsense. After Dean Chin passed away, the rumors grew, as Dean Chin’s students latched onto the obvious false notion, that Richard Chin was never a Disciple of Chan Man Cheung’s—in spite of the abundant evidence to the contrary. I paid no-never-mind to this effete nonsense, even as the crescendo of the gossip grew like Pinocchio’s nose over the years.

You might’ve heard of the “Pinocchio Awards” given by the Washington Post for political lies, in terms of numbers. The higher the number of “Pinocchios” given, the greater the lie. “1 Pinocchio” would be given for a little white political lie. “4 Pinocchios”—the highest number possible on a scale of 1 to 4—would be awarded by the Washington Post, for the most outrageous and egregious lie voiced by a politician. I would have to award Dean Chin’s students’ gossipmongering, with 4 Pinocchios, for that is as high as the Pinocchio scale goes.

We at the Asian Martial Arts Studio never dignified this irrational caterwauling by the Dean Chin students, with any type of response. Why bother? It was too ridiculous to even think about. We didn’t suffer fools gladly, and these fools were making obvious fools of ’emselves—they didn’t need our help in that department. You wouldn’t even think—30 plus years after I left Sifu—that I would have a dog in this fight. That is where you’d be wrong.

Sifu Richard Chin and I may have separated, but the reality is, that Richard Chin will wlways be “Sifu” to me. It is the honorable thing to speak up about this issue. I can’t answer as to what the motivation of Dean Chin’s students is—I’m not a forensic psychologist. All I can say is, hey—if they want to waste their time and breath, it’s their time and breath. However, I believe that I owe it to Sifu Richard Chin to state in writing, the obvious: That Richard Chin is a Disciple of Chan Man Cheung’s, and that no amount of misguided revisionist history will change that fact. I owe much to Sifu Chin for what he gave to me, regardless of how our relationship turned out. I will always be indebted to him. Later.

FINITO

“I CAN TEACH ANY STYLE”

June 8, 2013

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Magazine page courtesy of Rainbow Publications

GOOD FORM: Should teach how to generate power.

MIKE WILLNER FROM OUR BLOG, “GUNG FU BROTHERS SPEAK OUT:”

“Let’s see your form (integrity). How do you move? Do you have power in your technique? Scott and I agree: We can look at pretty much any martial artist do their form for 3 minutes and have a very accurate view on his or her legitimacy.”

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Before we enter our discussion, please click on the following link and watch this video first, because we will be discussing the video:

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO

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The man doing the Bak Mei (White Eyebrow style) form can hurt you. Your initial impression of the man before he does his form is, he might be the bagboy in your local supermarket. However, as soon as he does his form, his image in your mind is transformed: He immediately becomes a worthy martial artist, who has good technique. After my first viewing of this video, I thought to myself, “This guy has good form.”

This relates to what my Jow Ga brother, Mike Willner, said about us being able to correctly assess a martial artist’s ability (and therefore, legitimacy) by watching his form. I was able to do so by watching this Bak Mei stylist do his wonderful form. Here’s a breakdown of my assessment of his technique:

His movements are crisp and sharp. He finishes each technique with good power, before moving on. He sets in his stances before delivering each punch, grab or block. He gets his hips involved in each movement, therefore maximizing the power and leverage in each technique. As the hips rotate, so does the rest of the torso, exponentially increasing the power of the resulting technique. Without the leverage created by hip and torso rotation, punches are weak “arm punches.” He doesn’t speed up just for the sake of speed.

I’ve looked at other Bak Mei stylists doing forms, and many of them rush through, as if the sheer speed they perform at, can give them maximum power in their form. The truth is for these others I watched, their punches became “watery” looking, lacking maximum extension, power and leverage. They don’t fully finish each punch before moving on. Think of a form as merely a collection of individual techniques. If you were practicing an individual technique, the reverse punch for example—you wouldn’t “let up” on the punch before it was finished, would you? No, you would fully extend after maximum acceleration of the body parts involved through good relaxation, and “finish” with the maximum contraction of those body parts involved, at the end of the punch. Why wouldn’t you do this with every technique in a form—“finish” them, before going on to the next technique?

Many of those I watched doing Bak Mei form had weak punching fundamentals, unlike our man in our video. Their punches were “arm punches,” lacking hip rotation to maximize power. Their techniques start to run into each other before each technique is finished, therefore destroying any chance of crisp, sharp and powerful technique. Their forms have this “runny” quality to them that I spoke of. Yet, the man I’m talking about here, who has terrific leverage, power and extension in his techniques—has good flow and contiguity from one technique to the next. He is able to achieve this good flow without compromising any of his techniques.

Okay, you say, I’m able to tell what “good technique” is–so what? I’m leading to a bigger point here. Mike and I may not be specifically familiar with the form that the Bak Mei stylist did, but we can make corrections in such a form, if the moves are done incorrectly. We are able to do this because there are underlying elements in every move in every form, regardless of style, that depend on universal fundamentals: Is the stance good, does the martial artist generate decent power through correct body component alignment, do the musculoskeletal components accelerate toward a climax of contraction at the end of every punch? Maximum acceleration in itself, is a function of maximizing relaxation until the very end of the technique.

There’s another point I’m leading up to, and that is—I can teach any style. Of course, there are limitations if I don’t know the form. However, I can state unequivocally, that I can teach the most important element of form: How to correctly do each technique from a fundamentals point of view. In fact, I have done this when I wasn’t familiar with the forms I was evaluating in students.

Before I opened my own school, I was a disciple of Sifu Richard Chin’s at his New York City Asian Martial Arts Studio, where we taught Jow Ga kung fu (my style) and an Okinawan style called Kuen Do Ryu. After we lost our lease for our Wooster Street dojo in the Soho section of lower Manhattan, the school divided into two branches, when Sifu left the teaching up to Mike and me at our respective branches.

I moved my branch to the Third Street Music School in Manhattan. At our dojo (or “kwoon” if you prefer) at the Third Music School, where I ran our Asian Martial Arts Studio Downtown (Mike Willner ran the uptown branch), we consolidated both styles into one class. Since we had both Jow Ga and Kuen Do Ryu students on the dojo floor at the same time, I oversaw the teaching of both styles.

Now, I was not familiar with all of the Kuen Do Ryu forms, so how did I “teach” the Okinawan-specific kata? Obviously, I could not correct students on their sequencing of forms I didn’t know—but I could correct the fundamentals of the moves that students performed in their Kuen Do Ryu forms. This is a critical function of teaching form.

One can know a thousand forms, but if one wasn’t taught how to generate good power in each and every moves in those forms, then it was all a waste of time. I was able teach this most critical element of doing forms, because I understand of the fundamentals of the kinesiology of their moves. I could tell if power was lacking, and why. I may not have been able to tell you if a particular move “traditionally” belonged in a form, but frankly, that isn’t important, anyway.

Of course, this deep understanding of mine with regard to fundamental movement wouldn’t be enough, when teaching form. After all, students have to learn the sequence of moves of a form. This was achieved, because I had two Kuen Do Ryu karate brown belts assisting me. These brown belts were Vittoria Repetto and Rick Osborne. With Vittoria and Rick overseeing the sequence of techniques in forms, we were a complete package in teaching good technique.

In the end, forms are just vehicles for teaching good technique. If one is able to generate good power and leverage in form, then ultimately, the specific sequence of moves isn’t all that important. A move could be “missing” from someone’s form, and it wouldn’t matter, as long as the underlying power, flow and speed are good. If one “added” a non-traditional move to a form, it wouldn’t really matter either, as long as the fundamentals of good movement are present—as we saw in the form done by the Bak Mei stylist in the video. I could actually teach that form in it’s most important aspect, without knowing the form: How to do each move with crisp, sharp intent, and how to generate good power in the form. Later.

FINITO

“HOW IMPORTANT IS MARTIAL ARTS LINEAGE?”

June 6, 2013

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Photo by Patricia Wong

Magazine page courtesy of Rainbow Publications

JOW GA ANCESTORS: How revelant?

Just how relevant and important is one’s style lineage, to a martial artist? I suppose that depends on one’s relationship—or lack of it—with one’s teacher. It is one’s teacher, that is the immediate link to all of the rest of the style’s line. For example, I left my Jow Ga teacher, Sifu Richard Chin in 1984, and the departure was neither amicable or traditional in any sense. Like so many sifu/disciple relationships that went south, there were insurmountable hurdles that could not be overcome, that would’ve allowed us to continue our relationship as it was, unabated. Mike Willner had a similar break with Sifu, even though the details of the problems we each had with Sifu were quite different.

The philosophical question that arose with me after I made my break with Sifu was, did this break my line with Sigung Chan Man Cheung (Sifu’s sifu), and Chan Man Cheung’s teacher, who happened to be one of the Jow Ga founders, Jow Biu? In my mind, perhaps in the view of some, but it didn’t matter. Others’ viewpoints didn’t concern me. It didn’t matter to me, because I had possession of what I considered paramount to my Jow Ga lineage: My skill and technique, and my ability to pass the art on to another generation, which I have done. Now, I occasionally run across students of my disciple, Eddie Garcia, who now call me “Sigung.”

Do these students of my disciple, have a “legitimately” continuous line all the way back to our founder and ultimate ancestor, Jow Biu? In my view, yes. Yes, because they practice the art that Jow Bui helped to create, the art that Jow Biu taught to Chan Man Cheung, the art that Chan Man Cheung taught to Richard Chin, the very art that my teacher taught to me. Politically-obsessed people may deny the reality of that, but Sifu’s teaching me this wonderful art of Jow Ga, did occur, and did not merely exist in an abstract vacuum. Blood, sweat and tears were shed during the teaching of, and the learning of this art. That cannot be denied. To deny this for political reasons, would constitute an act of psychosis. What this means is, that two generations downstream from me, are younger Jow Ga practitioners that can trace their true lineage all the way back to Jow Ga’s founders.

It is the art of Jow Ga, taught to me the way that Richard Chin viewed it—that informs how I view the art—-and has influenced the way that I’ve taught it. Do I ever bother with worrying about how I or my Jow Ga brother, Mike Willner, are perceived? Do I wonder if they see me as “legitimate” or not? Sorry, it’s not even a issue worth thinking about, which I don’t, or ever did. It is the art that lives on, untouchable by political concerns, that gives meaning to who’s legitimate. Legitimacy is shown in the power of one’s form, and the speed and acceleration in one’s reverse punch. Period. In the end, philosophical questions regarding “legitimacy” are really political questions—and politics within the martial arts, concerns me not at all.

Allow me to qualify, how lineage is of importance—but from an historical point of view. I believe that one should respect what came before, to appreciate how my art developed over the decades, and to see the combat philosophy that may (or may not have) been passed on from generation to generation. This doesn’t necessitate a personal relationship with one’s martial ancestors, however immedaite or distant. What it does require, is a sense of history and tradition on one’s part. This, I can do, without a direct line to Sifu’s or Sigung’s cell phone. Or a seance’s communicative power to reach Jow Biu. Ultimately though, what’s really important is the here and now of how one sees one’s own art, for that will differ vastly, even within the same style in name. Later.

FINITO